Interview on Empire Radio Now

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On Friday, August 4th, I will be interviewed on Empire Radio Now at 4:12 PM EST. I will be discussing The Appointment as well as The Wizard and the White House. The interview can be heard live at https://empireradionow.com/studio3/ or http://tunein.com/radio/Empire-3-s285445/.

 

 

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Interview on Kong Monster Rock

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Yesterday, I was interviewed by Alan Lohr on his Kong Monster Rock show. It was an especial honor for me since the program is devoted to musicians. The interview involved my poetry and fiction and, most notably, my new novella, The Appointment.

Click here to listen.

For signed copies of the novella, click the buy now button below.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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Interview with Alan Lohr

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Today at 6 PM ET, I will be a guest on Alan Lohr’s Kong Monster Rock  where I will be discussing my novella, The Appointment, published this year by Vine Leave Press.

The interview can be heard live on  Kong Monster Rock  and will be recorded for social media for future listening on The SpareMin App (AndroidOS: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sparemin.sparemin&hl=en and iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sparemin/id1017089162?mt=8)

Please tune in and spread the word.

 

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The Poet and the Poem

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Library of Congress
May 23, 2017

On Tuesday, My 23, it was my pleasure to be a guest on Grace Cavalieri’s “The Poet and the Poem.” The program is recorded at the Library of Congress and is broadcast, at a later date, on Pacifica Radio and archived on the library’s website.

Here is a recording of the program:

This recording contains a reading of Lamia Abbas Amara’s “If The Fortune Teller Had Told Me” in both Arabic and English. Apologies to my Arab friends if have mangled their language.

Many thanks to Grace who is one of the most gracious individuals I know.

Posted in interviews, Poems, Readings, Translations | 2 Comments

Grace Cavalieri’s The Poet and the Poem

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It is my great honor to be a guest today on Grace Cavalieri’s “The Poet and the Poem,”  hosted at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. I will be reading some of my poems, discussing poetry as well as reading some Arabic poetry (and my translations) by the Iraqi poet  Lamia Abbas Amara. Amara is one of the leading modern day Iraqi poets who has lived here in the United States since the 1980’s.

Here is one of my translations:, originally published in 1982 in Pig Iron.

FROUZANDA MAHRAD
Lamia Abbas Amara

I was sitting in the lobby
of the Shaateh Hotel
in Tripoli, Libya
when she passed by
in a long dress
hair bound in a kerchief
carrying two bundles in her hands
as if she had just arrived from a journey.

At her side
two young men
–two moons or two angels.
I guessed they were her sons.

I knew this woman
I knew the luster in those eyes.

I started to call her-
I forgot her name.
My face smiled at her.
She noticed me
her gaze penetrated mine-
she also was trying to remember.

She did not stop
did not let on to her sons
but kept walking across the lobby
as I continued struggling with my memory.

She disappeared
but everything about her came back-
except her name.
My college classmate in Baghdad.
Daughter of a diplomatic official
in the Iranian Embassy.

I remembered her witty comments
and her strange behavior.
Once
the English teacher entered
while some students were drawing
ugly figures on the blackboard.
He shouted angrily
what are you doing?
Quietly she answered
they are drawing themselves.

Once
she had a fit of epilepsy in the class
and started writhing on the floor.
I held her and smoothed her clothes.
She rested against my breast
between my arms.
And the first thing she said was
how kind you are!

Everything about her was strange
even her name which I had forgotten.
I remembered everything about her-
except her name.
How difficult it was to recall
after more than thirty years.
Suddenly
it came to me:
Frouzanda Mahrad.
I even remembered her sister’s name:
Drakshanda Mahrad.
I repeated this impossible name
so I would not lose it again:
Frouzanda, Frouzanda, Frouzanda
but she had already disappeared
down the long corridors of the hotel.

I considered asking reception
for her room number.
Then I backed down
and I asked myself:
after greeting her
what would we talk about after thirty years?
About work?
When both of us were retired?
About our marriages?
When we were at that age
where we were either widowed or divorced?
There remained one other question:
our sons.
What would she say to me?
Or I to her?
Would she say she had come to Libya
so her sons could train for combat? 1
Would I say that my son
is a soldier in the Iraqi army?
Then we would be quiet.
Silence and glances would be our talk.
Who would kill first?
Would my son kill hers
or hers mine?

Two mothers prepared for bereavement
meeting on the razor’s edge.

Frouzanda would remember me
no doubt
after a while
as I had remembered her.
Her companion, the beautiful poet.
The kind person who had embraced her daily.
Perhaps she would even see my face
soiled with battledust.
And on the loving breast
piercing claws
clinging war medals.

The same loving breast
that had nursed the soldier
alert on the battlefield
threatening the life of her sons
defending himself and his land
exactly as her sons were doing.

I hoped she had not recognized me.
Perhaps she had not remembered.

Fortunately
I did not encounter her again.
What a blessing forgetfulness is!

Why should we hate the people we once loved
because of a war which mars even our memories?

Translated by Mike Maggio

1 Libya, although an Arab country, supported Iran in its war against Iraq.

 

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Music and Language: A Confluence of Influence

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Music has always been an intimate part of my life. Perhaps it goes back to the time when, as a child of perhaps 5 years old, I would sit in front of the record player and just listen and listen and listen. And rock back and forth, of course. Or maybe it’s that I began to take piano lessons at 9 years old and dreamed of one day becoming a performer. Or perhaps it relates to the fact that I would hear melodies circulating around inside my head while riding the bus on the way to school – melodies that I always thought would grow into an original score – a piano concerto or a sonata. Or, perhaps, more relevant to my current efforts, that I would hear voices behind the music I was playing – voices that were trying to communicate with me, to tell me their story – voices that emerged from the notes and chords that my fingers executed. Where, I would ask myself, did those voices come from? Who were they? What did they want to tell me? What was their story?

Fast forward to my adulthood when poetry and fiction took over my life. Music was still there: the particular rhythm of a line in a poem, or a poem that started with a rhythm to which I had to supply the words. Or the cadence of a line or a paragraph, or even a chapter, in a work of fiction — a bit of dialogue, perhaps, or the crescendo of a scene that was working itself into a climax, like the finality of chords in the finale of a Brahms symphony.

It is music that has often inspired the shape of my characters, the arc that a particular story takes, or a poem that I silently sing. While I do not write to the accompaniment of music nor specifically use music for inspiration, it is the music that I listen to on a daily basis that provides an unconscious backdrop to what I am creating, And while there is no music in most of the stories I write, it is the musical nature of language itself that is always my focus, for a story or a poem is more than just words and characters and actions. It is comprised of feelings and tone, of mood and atmosphere, of all those intangible elements that can only be conveyed by how the language is implemented – by the very music of the linguistic experience.

The Appointment, my newest book, is a novella that takes place in the 20th century but has the feel of a 19th century work. It is European in nature though it is firmly an American story. Professor Withers, the main character, spends his waning days (or, more accurately, his post-waning days) in a quest for self. Could he have possibly been defined by the Elgar Cello Concerto most famously performed by Jacqueline Du Pres, a piece of music that has haunted me for years? And what about the other characters I create?   The characters that come to me? Fazzalludin Chowdry, for example, a Pakistani immigrant, a butcher by trade who gets unwillingly involved with the President of the United States in my novel, The Wizard and the White House?  Or the Reverend CJ  Willis, the wily preacher in the same story? And how about Sister Lucretia, the evil nun in my Gothic novel-in progress, a dark, cruel character who is as elusive as she is wicked? What music helps me create such characters, such stories? Or, maybe I should ask: what music leads me to discover them somewhere out there?

And so I think back to what I listen to on a daily basis. Yoko Ono is constantly on my playing list and has been an unending source of inspiration for me. Surely her musical creations like the incredible “Hirake (Open Your Box)” or the John Cage-inspired Cambridge 1969 2007,  both of which take me musically to a place where I’ve never been, have allowed me to create the wild, surreal environment that makes up The Wizard and the White House. Or Shostakovich;s Cello Concerto No. 1, a piece of music that is as disturbing as it is irresistible and which I’ve been listening a lot to lately – could it be helping me create the dark, threatening environment that makes up my evolving Gothic novel?

Music, that most abstract, intangible art form, can lead the spirit to places unpredicted and unforeseen. Fiction and poetry, at their best, should do that same.  A reader should come away from a poem or a story with a feeling that they have been transported to a world where they have never before been or that they have never before imagined. And once they return, with a breath of wonder, they should feel like they were on a journey which was both elucidating and rewarding. One to which, the author hopes, they will often return.

A composer friend of mine, with whom I just worked on a project, recently told me that he hears strings of music in his head. He then transcribes them using software on his computer. And that’s how he composes. He does not sit at a piano or with cello in hand and work out melodies. No, he connects to another world – channels would be the proper word – and allows that world to occupy his being. Similarly, when I write, I channel – perhaps to the same place as he – and listen and record. Could it be that we connect to the same place?  Could it be that artists, musicians, and writers have a secret place where they all go – a secret garden where that famous muse instills us with music, story, art? Or is it that we all go to our own private Innisfree, a place that guides us to the art we carefully render?

The answer is as elusive as the very source of inspiration. Regardless, music and language and art are inseparable and who is to say which inspires the other?

Mike Maggio, May2017

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Author Special

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To celebrate the publication of my new novella, The Appointment, I am offering  a copy of The Appointment at the regular price of $9.99 and a copy of The Wizard and the White House for just $7 plus handling and shipping of $5 for a total of $16.99. Offer available in the US only. Both books will be signed by me.



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On the Air

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Reading “LA Central Library”  from Garden of Rain

Dennis Price Show
May 9, 2017

LA Central Library

Standing in line
for 15 minutes of internet
Tom Bradley Wing
LA Central Library

the alkies
the druggies
even the homeless
need to charge their iPods.

Quintessential LA
quintessentially speaking
the glim and glamour
the vim and stamina

of those who lost their lives
to glass and steel
steal and beggary
lost their lives yet still survive.

How they cleaned up downtown
they say. meaning those
who fell by the wayside
were tucked away

swept away
cinders from a vintage fireplace
shoveled off to an invisible part of town
where they can’t be seen.

Unlike the ragged man
in the underground mall
on Fifth and Hope
chased by security

chased for a steaming cup of coffee
proffered by a McDonald’s employee
a placation perhaps
a plume of hope

in this hopeless city
where dreams are made
of celluloid and steel
and the Triforium Carillon

no longer rings true
no longer rings
thanks to judges and judgments
and the injustices of Justicetown.

Yet this downtown library still stands,
despite the flames, still commands,
despite the people who lost their souls
a testament to the restive phoenix

that shall always rise and rise.

© Mike Maggio 2017

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Tonight On the Dennis Price Show

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I will be appearing tonight, along with Marianne Szlyk, on Hotline With Dennis Price on Fairfax Public Radio to discuss this year’s 30 for 30 poetry event as well as my new book, The Appointment. Marianne and I will be on from 8 to 9 PM Eastern.

You can listen in from anywhere in the world:
In Northern Virginia : Cox and Verizon digital cable channel 37
In Reston, Virginia : Comcast channel 27
Anywhere else in the world : http://www.radiofairfax.com
For mobile devices : http://tunein.com/radio/Radio-Fairfax-s24818

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Announcing the Release of The Appointment

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When a terrifying gang goes on a rampage at a packed subway station, Professor Jeremy Withers is severely beaten and left for dead. When he regains consciousness, he continues his journey to campus, only to find his office empty and his life as an academic for 30 years completely erased. A surprise visit from two mysterious inspectors complicates matters further. Do they want information about his attack? Who are they working for? Where can he locate them? Soon Professor Withers finds himself lost in a world that seems uncanny and unforgiving, searching for answers from people he cannot find.

 




This short novella is a story of loss and alienation and has been compared to Franz Kafka’s The Trial, Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone.

Here’s what is being said about The Appointment:

Mike Maggio’s The Appointment is a contemporary tale of alienation, bureaucracy, and merciless academia. Maggio’s anti-hero tries to seek some help–some human concern for his existential plight–but, like Kafka’s K or Tolstoy’s dying Ivan Ilych, fails to find the recognition and human warmth he so desperately needs. The Appointment is a story of existence and mortality and those who avoid human community and who are ultimately left totally alone.- JUDITH MCCOMBS, THE HABIT OF FIRE: POEMS SELECTED & NEW

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With all the dread-filled propulsion of certain dreams, Mike Maggio’s The Appointment runs on urgency. No time to get a grip on what just happened or what adds up: Professor Withers has been wounded somehow, and yet he still strives for agency and meaning, as though the powers of officialdom were not driving him relentlessly towards the appointed end.- MADELEINE MYSKO, BRINGING VINCENT HOME AND STONE HARBOR BOUND

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Mike Maggio has one of the weirdest minds I’ve ever come across, and like all weird minds, it is fascinating, colorful, dramatic, and hilarious. Read, laugh, ponder.- SOPHY BURNHAM, AUTHOR OF LOVE, ALBA

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By directly from this site for a signed copy:



 

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